Seniors vs. Faculty game honors Lange’s memoryMarch 14, 2019
By HENDRIX MAGLEY
HUNTINGBURG — The basketball game between a select group of Southridge High School faculty members and several senior students has been going on for the past 42 years.
But this year’s game was missing someone who has been a focal point of the annual Seniors vs. Faculty game for as long as anyone can remember — Gary Lange.
Lange, who passed away at the age of 56 on Feb. 10, was a longtime mathematics teacher at Southridge High School. He was an avid fan of all things Southridge athletics, and he was sure to be found either taking tickets, working games and meets or cheering from the stands.
It’s one of the reasons why the faculty decided to honor Lange during Wednesday night’s game by wearing special-made shirts dedicated to him.
The shirts read: “Make hay while the sun shines,” a saying Lange had uttered many times.
“He loved sports, he loved the kids and he loved watching the kids play sports,” said Brock Matthews, who taught alongside Lange in Southridge’s math department. “He played in this for years and years, and he would’ve loved every minute of it tonight. We just wanted to do everything in his name.”
While the game is only meant for fun, it was definitely a nerve-wracking affair for both teams, as the battle came down to the final seconds. The faculty were winners by a score of 41-38 to increase their overall record in this game to 40-2, however, that record has been disputed.
The seniors were led by Southridge basketball standout Joe LaGrange, who found himself in a different role on Wednesday night — coaching from the sidelines instead of directing plays on the court.
When LaGrange was asked if he took any tips from Mark Rohrer’s coaching playbook, his coach was quick to interject with a joke: “I’m surprised he didn’t come out here in a suit.”
LaGrange enjoyed his first coaching stint, even if it was a little difficult.
“It’s a lot different from playing. I can’t control what’s going on the floor, so that’s a little nerve-wracking,” LaGrange said with a laugh. “I just tried to let my guys play a little bit and let them play free, because it’s supposed to be fun. [Coach Rohrer] lets us play; he lets us be ourselves.”
The seniors were led by several standout athletes, including Wyatt Kramer, Tucker Schank, Logan Seger, Patrick Sander, Ben Hudson, Luis Flores, Carson Mundy, Seth Nunamaker and Cody Ayres.
The faculty had several members who had past high school basketball experience, including Heritage Hills graduates Ted O’Brien and Greg Gogel, as well as Rohrer, who’s a Barr-Reeve alum. Also on the faculty squad was sixth-grade teacher Stephen Longabaugh, guidance counselor Doug Collins, industrial tech teacher Tom Collins and middle school social studies teacher Brad Ohanian. Longtime competitor and current Athletic Director Brett Bardwell acted as the game’s public address announcer.
The game itself was very back and forth, with the students taking a 14-8 lead early in the first half thanks to 11 quick points from Mundy. However, the faculty never backed down, as a pair of big three-pointers in the first half from Matthews helped keep the teachers right in the thick of things.
“I don’t play very much — if ever,” joked Matthews, who was voted the team’s MVP by his peers after finishing with eight points. “I had to get hot early on, that was the only option, because after about five minutes, I start to get tired, so then there would be no more shooting.”
While the students held a one-point advantage at the halftime break, they went on a big run midway through the second half to allow them to take a 34-28 lead behind some three-point shots by Seger and Sander.
However, immediately following those big plays the faculty went on a 7-0 run, as O’Brien, Gogel, Matthews and Ohanian all chipped in to put the teachers up 35-34. After that? The staff never relinquished the lead.
“This was fun. A lot of times when we play our games, they are near the 100s, but this one was much more competitive,” O’Brien said. “When you have a nice mix of guys who played in high school, that makes a big difference. It also helps when you have guys who are under the age of 35 and can still go up and down the court.”
O’Brien led the faculty in scoring with 13 points, while Gogel and Matthews finished with eight points each. Mundy led the students with 13 points.
The game was fun for players on both sides. For LaGrange, well, it was another memory to add as his time in Huntingburg Memorial Gym wraps up.
“It was fun being out here. I miss it already, even though it’s only been a couple of weeks since our season ended,” LaGrange said. “I just love basketball, and I want to be in the gym and around it any way that I can.”
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